Emily Bonn & The Vivants, The Driftless

Emily Bonn & The Vivants

Largely inspired by the energy of old-time dance tunes, honky-tonk country, and western swing, The Vivants play their own brand of American roots music, shining up dusty melodies with modern arrangements.

In former incarnations, Emily performed in San Francisco subway stations, Belgian prisons, Appalachian corner stores, and at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. As a former member of the critically acclaimed country band, The Whoreshoes, she shared stages with the legendary rockabilly singer, Wanda Jackson, Old Crow Medicine Show and Devil Makes Three.

The Vivants include stellar performers, Jody Richardson on fiddle, foot percussion and vocal harmonies, James Touzel on upright bass, and Isaac Bonnell on piano accordion.

We are lucky to know more Vivants who have raised our musical game including: Anna Levitt (fiddle and vocals), Tom Lucas (fiddle, banjo, vocals), Janese Hurley (fiddle, vocals), Roxanne Oliva (accordion, vocals) and Greg Dunn (upright bass).

The Driftless

Born from rowdy late-night beginnings at the infamous Hebard surfside co-op jams, the Driftless journey through rye-soaked soundscapes that fuse country-folk, jazz and blues. Playing everything from delicate ballads to boisterous foot-stomping tunes, the Driftless is anchored in the American roots tradition. Songs range from playful and luminous to sultry and haunting – think Memphis Minnie, Bill Monroe and Tom Waits go to the carnival.

The vocals and song writing of Megan Saunders and Blair McLaughlin meet with Jeffery Kissell’s bold and graceful bass lines and Rob Smith’s ripping guitar solos to form the architecture of the band. We approach every song as unique, and develop it family-style, making it greater than the sum of its parts. Through our music, we strive to build a sense of story, place and regalement drawing from adventures, love, exploits and insomnia across the backroads of Vermont to California. . It’s like eating your favorite childhood macaroni and cheese casserole while dressed in garters and lace.

For us, this music is a refuge.

Submit to the banjo.

Steep Ravine (closing set)

Steep Ravine's sound conjures up an authentic slice of Northern California spirit, combining the energy and drive of bluegrass with the heart and soul of folk and roots music. Their revivalist tone is as good as it gets, with original tunes that summon a sound outside the bounds of time and place. The band features the string-playing ingenuity of guitarist Simon Linsteadt, violinist Jan Purat, mandolinist Andy O’Brien, and upright bassist Alex Bice.
Steep Ravine, which gets its name from a favorite hiking trail on Mt. Tamalpais, draws its influences from far and wide, including David Grisman, Bill Monroe, Neil Young, James Taylor, Tony Rice, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. The band’s collective abilities cross multiple musical genres, bringing a fresh, distinctive sound to original tunes and arrangements alike. By the time Linsteadt and Purat started a folk band together in high school, they’d each logged years of time in classical and jazz. As they expanded genres into the roots music world, staying acoustic was never a question. After high school, the two moved on to study music at UC Santa Cruz, where they fortuitously met O’Brien and Bice at a bluegrass jam session in the sleepy coastal town. Mandolinist O’Brien’s love of traditional bluegrass brings a time-honored style to the mix, while Bice’s background in percussion and drums provides a strong rhythmic foundation.

The band’s recently released four-track debut EP pairs two originals with two renditions of traditional bluegrass tunes, offering a glimpse of the quartet’s musical prowess. Stay tuned: Steep Ravine is currently in the midst of composing a full-length album of new original music, to be released this fall.


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